Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has come to the defence of Charles Leclerc after the Monegasque threw away a podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Ferrari and Red Bull had seemed fairly evenly matched over the course of the weekend in Imola, but the Milton Keynes side had a commanding advantage over the Scuderia in Bologna as Max Verstappen took the grand slam ahead of Sergio Perez, sealing their first one-two since 2016.
Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, was taken out on the first lap by Daniel Ricciardo, and Leclerc had looked set to finish third having been outpaced by the Red Bulls all afternoon.
But in his haste to set the fastest lap and close up to Perez after a pit stop onto soft tyres, the 24-year-old span at the Variante Alta, damaging his front wing and eventually seeing him finish in P6.
Some may perceive the mistake to be a legacy of the pressure of being in the championship picture, but Binotto insists that this is not the case.
“The mistake had nothing to do with pressure,” he affirmed.
“I think racing drivers are used to driving at the limit. The cars have harder suspension this year and if you get too high on the curb, you can lose the car.”
Red Bull are said to have lost 5KG as a result of the upgrade they brought to Italy last weekend, and Ferrari are perhaps being hindered slightly by the “porpoising” caused by the ground effect aerodynamics.
While nothing substantial was introduced in Imola by Ferrari, Binotto confirmed that they had been working towards eradicating the detrimental contact with the track surface, and outlined that a more significant change will arrive as we head deeper into the European season.
“We will work on preventing the bouncing and on adapting our aerodynamics package for this track, which requires less downforce,” he added.
“The larger upgrade will follow a little later.”
Former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher criticised Leclerc’s error, indicating that the points lost could have been indispensable come the end of the season as the championship battle intensifies.
“It’s very close and I think it will stay that way for the rest of the season,” Schumacher said.
“That’s why every little mistake counts, even if it was a big one today.
“What happened with him was not necessary at all. He should have accepted taking third place home, because doing that is also the key to a world championship.
“He took too much of the kerb in that situation. Far too much.”
Leclerc himself took responsibility for the mistake, conceding that he got “greedy” in his pursuit of more lap time.
“I believe that the spin shouldn’t have happened today, I mean P3 was the best I could do,” he told Sky Sports.
“We didn’t have the pace for much more and I was too greedy and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points compared to my third place I was before so it is a shame.
“It’s seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship for sure and this shouldn’t happen again.”
Leclerc now leads Max Verstappen by 27 points in the Drivers’ Championship following the splendid display from the Dutchman in Bologna.